Thai Chili Chocolate gelato, shown on the countertop of the gelateria.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
Updated July 2009
The Joy Of Gelato
Page 3: Il Laboratorio Del Gelato
This is Page 3 of a three-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.
Il Laboratorio Del Gelato
Jon Snyder of Il Laboratorio del Gelato was a pioneer in the modern artisanal gelato movement. His first venture, Ciao Bella Gelato, was founded way back in 1984. After selling it five years later, attending graduate school and working on Wall Street, he returned to his first love. His “laboratory” is a tiny storefront on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, right across the street from the New York Tenement Museum. There’s no room for even one table—the front space holds just an upholstered bench in the front window that can fit two adults, which faces the combination freezer case and counter that holds perhaps twenty quarts of precious gelato and sorbetto. In the back, you can see two artisans making the next batches: when we’re there, they’re peeling and puréeing mangos. Two hand trucks of fresh strawberries arrive on their way to becoming strawberry gelato, filling the small space with the fragrance of ripe strawberries.
|Say “Ciao!” to Crème Fraîche, Espresso, Pistachio and Raspberry gelato.
After the fruit is puréed and mixed with milk, it is placed in a 10-quart drum, from which 5 quarts of gelato emerge. It’s a lot of handwork for so little gelato: with the expensive ingredients, the labor and the cost of rent, you wonder why a pint doesn’t cost more than it does.
What We’ll Never Forget
- Honey Lavender. After one taste, we were ready to clear our freezer and lay in a stock for the winter ahead, as these flavors are seasonal. The Honey Lavender isn’t made the easy way, from dried buds, but from the fresh lavender petals of summer, which are ground into a paste and mixed with buckwheat honey, the darkest and least sweet of the generally available honeys. Such a heavenly flavor, we will be forced to start making our own Honey Lavender if Il Laboratorio runs out.
- Green Tea and Watermelon gelato.
- Crème Fraîche. We adore creme fraîche, the dairy product; and we adore how Il Laboratorio has transforms into a frozen dessert. Unexpectedly flavorful, given the subtleness of crème fraîche, we hid the rest of the pint in the freezer to uncover later when we need a special surprise.
- Raspberry. Perhaps the best raspberry frozen dessert we can imagine, Il Laboratorio del Gelato honors the raspberry by capturing its natural tartness without adding noticeable sugar to bring it to a level of sweetness. It tastes like frozen raspberries. Brilliant.
Traditional Flavors We Love
The two top-sellers at Il Laboratorio del Gelato are Dark Chocolate and Vanilla. When we remonstrated that New Yorkers were too tame in their tastes, we were reminded by another editor that, “One’s first job is to get the basics right.” Maybe, but we couldn’t wait to get to temptations like:
- Cinnamon. We’ve said it before: there isn’t enough cinnamon ice cream in America. Perfect by itself, heavenly with any fruit pies, a secret sin on pancakes and waffles.
- Green Tea. If your only introduction to this flavor is what’s served at Japanese restaurants, you owe it to yourself to try this version.
- Mint Chip. We can never resist this flavor wherever we find it. This gelato is very naturally minty, with large shavings of exquisitely delicious chocolate. We think it’s the best chipped chocolate we’ve ever tasted in an ice cream.
Flavors We’ll Try Next Time
- Toasted Sesame
IL LABORATORIO DEL GELATO
More Than 100 Flavors ~ Check Website
For Current Choices
- Four 18-Ounce Containers
$60.00 + Delivery
Purchase online at LaboratorioDelGelato.com
Or telephone 1.212.343.9922
Also available at specialty stores in Metro New York.
Go To The Article Index Above
Il Laboratorio del Gelato: the “lab experiment”
is a huge success.